The Last Days Apostasy of the Church

By Andy

Apostasy is an important yet often neglected subject when attempting to comprehend what the Bible teaches about the end times. Thus, this series of articles is dedicated toward tracing ten general, biblical characteristics of apostasy. In the previous articles, apostasy was defined as a movement within Christ’s church representing a departure from known truth. It was also established that apostasy is the central sign revealed in Scripture signaling the near completion of the church’s earthly mission, that warnings against apostasy consume much of the New Testament, and that these New Testament warnings relate to virtually all of Christianity’s most cherished doctrines. Apostasy is also a phenomenon that occurs internally within the church, is led by individuals considered the least likely candidates to depart from truth, can happen quickly, and is ultimately satanically energized. Moreover, apostasy is destructive in character and also has a deleterious impact upon those within the church who are attempting to remain faithful to God’s truth. Apostasy also negatively impacts those who have not taken preventive measures against it. Our previous article demonstrated the need for aggressive action, or a lack of passivity, in order to counter apostasy’s negative influence. One such aggressive step involves the need to test all things through the grid of the measuring stick of the closed canon of Scripture. This article will focus on a final way to combat apostasy: by returning to the preeminence and authority of Scripture in our personal lives and local churches.

An Unpopular Command

Paul discussed the reality of apostasy more in the Book of 2 Timothy than in any of his other letters. There, Paul exhorted young Timothy, who was pastoring in Ephesus, to devote himself to Scripture. He said, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). This pastoral injunction seems so simple. Yet this is the area where the contemporary American church is most negligent. For example, T.A. McMahon notes the dilution of the ministry of the Word in many churches.

As we’ve noted, most seeker-friendly churches focus much of their time, energy, and resources on accommodating unchurched Harry and Mary. Consequently, week after week, the entire congregation is subjected to a diluted and leavened message. Then, on Wednesday evening, when a fellowship is reduced to a quarter or a third of its normal size, would it be reasonable to assume that this remnant is served a nourishing meal featuring the meat of the word, expositional teaching, and an emphasis on sound doctrine and discipleship? Hardly. We’ve yet to find a seeker-friendly church where that takes place. The spiritual meals offered at midweek services are usually support group meetings and classes for discerning one’s spiritual gifts or going through the latest psycho-babble-ized “Christian” bestseller…rather than the study of the Scriptures.1 Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, observes this same ecclesiastical trend. While quoting Mark Galli, he notes: “It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start to mentally check out.” That stunningly clear sentence reflects one of the most amazing, tragic, and lamentable characteristics of contemporary Christianity – impatience with the Word of God.

...Galli was told to cut down on the biblical references in his sermon. “You’ll lose people,” the staff member warned. In a Bible lesson on creation, the teacher was requested to come back next Sunday prepared to take questions at the expense of reading the relevant scriptural texts on the doctrine. Cutting down on the number of Bible verses “would save time, and it was strongly implied would better hold people’s interest.”

…Indeed, in many churches there is very little reading of the Bible in worship, and sermons are marked by attention to the congregation’s concerns - not by adequate attention to the biblical text. The exposition of the Bible has given way to the concerns, real or perceived, of the listeners. The authority of the Bible is swallowed up in the imposed authority of congregational concerns.

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